Posted: Fri 24th Apr 2020

First Minister accused of ‘rowing back’ on second home clampdown

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Apr 24th, 2020


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A North Wales AM has accused the Welsh Government of “rowing back” on a planned clampdown on people travelling to second homes on Wales.

On Monday Mark Drakeford confirmed the Welsh government’s intention to strengthen the existing regulations by the weekend.

Confirmed this morning, the updated regulations make it clear that people cannot remain away from the place they live and also discourage exercising outside their local area.

The move follows pressure from Welsh clinicians who signed an open letter urging ministers to outlaw second home use in Wales until the pandemic has abated, citing pressure on an already stretched NHS modelled on a largely rural population.

But Arfon AM Sian Gwenllian believes the measures do not go far enough, believing that the First Minister has “rowed back massively” from what was being said earlier in the week.

The Welsh Government disputes this, however, noting that police have powers to enforce compliance with £60 fixed penalty notices increasing to £120 and then doubling for each further repeat offence.

A spokesman added that the government will keep this under review and will increase the penalties if it becomes clear that this is necessary to ensure compliance.

Sian Gwenllian told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, “On Monday the First Minister gave a strong indication that regulations on people travelling to Welsh second homes could be tightened, and there was a lot of hype that an announcement would be made by today, coming into force as the weekend starts.

“But we’ve had no new regulations and the FM seems to be rowing back massively from what he said at the beginning of the week.

“This is despite reports of people coming from Liverpool visiting Aber Falls at Abergwyngregyn and reports of a man in a car with a Huddersfield registration number plate taking his boat off his trailer at a local marina.”

Arfon AM Sian Gwenllian believes the measures do not go far enough.

She added: “I’m afraid some people will continue to ignore the rules until they are made much stronger thus potentially adding pressure to our local NHS.

“The Welsh Government needs to deliver on its promises.

“The police and local councils need more clout in dealing with those flaunting the rules and jeopardising the local population.

“Increasing the fines from the pitiful £60 for non essential travel to £1000 would be a good starting point.”

In response, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The regulations currently in force allow people to leave their main home only for a very limited number of reasons – which do not include travelling to a second home.

“We will continue to look in detail at the regulations to see whether there are any areas which need to be tightened or areas where we could make changes.”

Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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